U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, operating out of Arizona, seized thousands of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills over the weekend that smugglers attempted to sneak into the United States over the border with Mexico.
Officers in the border community of Nogales, which borders Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, seized 625,000 pills after conducting five separate inspections, Michael Humphries, the port director for the Nogales port of entry for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, tweeted on Aug. 29.
Among the hundreds of thousands of pills some 12,000 of them were rainbow-colored, that could entice children, “while another four pounds were in powder form. Agents also found 34 pounds of methamphetamine and five pounds of marijuana,” Fox News reported.
Seizures of fentanyl along the southern U.S. border soared in July, up over 200 percent, according to government figures released on Aug. 15.
Over 2,100lbs of the drug, that is fatal even in extremely small doses, were seized last month, the highest amount seized in at least the past four fiscal years. The record seizure follows the discovery of 1,300lbs of the drug that was seized in April this year.
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Also in April, the Drug Enforcement Administration warned of a “nationwide spike” in fentanyl-related mass overdoses that they say is killing Americans at an “unprecedented” rate. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.
In a letter, distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration in April this year it said, “The DEA is seeing a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events involving three or more overdoses occurring close in time at the same location,” adding that, “In just the past two months, there have been at least 7 confirmed mass overdose events across the United States resulting in 58 overdoses and 29 overdose deaths.”
The agency said that many of the victims were unaware they were ingesting fentanyl, believing that they were taking cocaine.
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In a separate statement, DEA Administrator, Anne Milgram, said, “Fentanyl is killing Americans at an unprecedented rate. Already this year, numerous mass-overdose events have resulted in dozens of overdoses and deaths. Drug traffickers are driving addiction, and increasing their profits, by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl, until it’s too late.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the 12-month period ending October 2021, there were more than 105,000 drug overdoses in the United states, 66 percent of which were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
Currently the drug is primarily trafficked over the southern border. During the 2021 fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 10,586 lbs of the drug, up drastically from the previous year which saw 4,558 lbs of the drug seized. In 2019, 2,633 lbs of the drug were seized. Most of the seizures occurred at official ports of entry.
The trend is significantly different from what was observed between 2014 and 2019 when most fentanyl came directly from China via international mail, according to a report published by the bipartisan Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.
“Since then, the dominant source of illegally sourced fentanyl has been Mexico. The drug is manufactured in illegal laboratories there using precursors from Asia — mainly the PRC — and is trafficked principally by land into the United States,” the report revealed.